For Busselton resident Nina Concannon, finding a cure for brain cancer would be better than winning the lottery.
Four years ago, Ms Concannon was training to run a marathon, feeling better than she had for years when she suffered a seizure during her sleep.
Her husband called an ambulance to take Ms Concannon to hospital where a scan revealed she had a brain tumor.
“As far as I was aware I was fit and healthy, it happened the year I turned 40, I always said when I turned 40 that I wanted to run a marathon,” she said.
“I felt so fit, I never had any headaches - I never had any signs or symptoms - to be told I have a five centimetre tumor in my head completely knocked me sideways.”
Ms Concannon had to go to Perth for surgery to remove the tumor when she found out it was incurable and was given six years to live.
Having three small children and a supportive husband, Ms Concannon said her journey since her diagnosis had been an emotional roller coaster.
“Even with the radiotherapy and chemotherapy it will never go completely,” she said.
Ms Concannon has undergone two surgeries to remove part of the tumor since she was diagnosed, but because the tumor is on her brain doctors cannot remove the whole amount in case it causes paralysis.
After her last surgery, Ms Concannon thought about her options, because her cancer wasn’t curable and because of the side effects from chemo she decided to travel to Thailand for immunotherapy.
“I had always been a bit on the holistic side and I wanted to investigate what I could do in a less toxic way to treat myself,” she said.
“It basically boosts your immune system up to help fight the cancer and works along chemo as well.”
Three years after her initial diagnosis, Ms Concannon revisited her oncologist to see if there was anything else they could offer.
Ms Concannon was told that a recent trial had found that with chemo and radiotherapy together the prognosis had doubled from six years to twelve years.
“That was really positive, and they said there was no reason why I couldn’t live another 10 or 20 years with the tumor but with it not growing,” she said.
“That changed my mind – I had six weeks of radiotherapy and the scan showed the area had shrunk - then I started the chemotherapy but I couldn’t carry on with it because it was destroying my bone marrow.
“Last month I had a scan which showed no visible signs of anything – we were absolutely over the moon – since I was diagnosed every scan had shown a grey area.”
Even though the scans weren’t showing anything, Ms Concannon was told that the tumor would grow back, it would shorten her life and eventually resurface.
“I just have to live for the day and I feel good at the moment,” she said.
“When something like this happens money and material things don’t matter – finding a cure would be amazing – and seeing my children grow up would be everything to me.”
This weekend Ms Concannon was going to attend the Walk 4 Brain Cancer event in Perth to raise money for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation when she realised she could organise a walk in Busselton.
Walk 4 Brain Cancer was first held in 2003 to raise money for the foundation with the event growing from a ‘community walk to a powerful grassroots movement.’
“This is such a great cause and I know when I was in hospital in Perth there was so much community spirit here in Busselton with everyone pulling together and dropping off dinners and fundraising for us,” she said.
“It was quite overwhelming and this is my way of giving back to such a great foundation.”
If people would like to take part in the Busselton Walk 4 Brain Cancer they register online as an individual or as a team at walk4braincancer.com.au/events/103/busso-s-walk-for-brain-cancer
Walkers are asked to meet at the grass area near the Equinox at 8.30am on Sunday, November 12 with the walk starting at 9am.
The group will stroll 2.5 kilometres east (towards the Busselton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group) and back again with a sausage sizzle, stalls and a raffle to greet walkers on their return.
If you would like to make a donation towards the Busselton Walk 4 Brain Cancer visit walk4braincancer.com.au/events/103/busso-s-walk-for-brain-cancer.